Creating Balance Within a Working Home
Speaking as a working parent, sometimes the hardest thing is finding time for myself and now with the coronavirus pandemic this task might seem outright impossible. Aside from maintaining the daily demands of employer’s expectations, keeping up the household and parenting the children to name a few; most working parents are already exhausted at the end of their workday. With schools being moved to online curriculums, extracurricular activities being cancelled, the words “I’m bored” ringing throughout the house, and having both working parents at home, the pendulum swing of life may appear to be unhinged.
The best to regain control is to write down all the things you used to do, including the expectations you had for yourself and tossing this list into the nearest recycling bin. We need to recognize that our “new normal” also must mean reevaluating our personal expectations as well as how we used to carry out our day. We need to recognize our children are looking up to us now more than ever, which is why for anyone who has ever flown to revisit the flight attendant’s safety words “remember to fix your own mask before helping others”.
Ways to achieve balance at home:
- Having a family schedule: set a schedule indicating which parent is in charge of the kids and giving the other parent uninterrupted work time. If possible, try to make the workspace away from high traffic areas within the home to help increase productivity and decrease distractions. Communicate with the children, the importance of respecting the workspace area and not to interrupt the parent who is in that space. Try to keep the kids on a schedule to help increase predictability within their day.
- Keep traditional routines: if possible try to mimic the routine that worked when the family was getting ready for the their traditional workday. Which means, if everyone was showered, dressed, and fed before a certain time try to maintain that schedule. This should also be applied to bedtime routines.
- Communication with spouse at the end of each working day: this is especially important to help make any necessary adjustments on childcare coverage for the upcoming day. This will help to accommodate each partner’s work obligations such as meetings and conference calls.
- Giving children responsibilities around the house: not only will it take some of the burden off your to-do list but also help to instill independence and responsibility in our children. Depending on the age of the child, often reward charts can be a source of motivation. Parents of teenagers, I think it’s important to sit down with your teen talk about the importance of everyone stepping up and taking responsibility around the house. Ask them what they think would be a fair consequences for not following through on chores as well as what they might find motivating to help them get their chores completed.
- Making “Me” Time”: talk to your spouse and set aside an hour a day for each of you to have to yourself. Use this time to take care of you which might mean calling friends and family, going for a walk, taking a long bath, reading a book, ect
- Date Night: Set a time in your weekend for your spouse and you to enjoy some time away from the children. If the children are younger, this realistically might not be able to happen until they are in bed for the evening.
Lastly, remember to give yourself some positive words at the end of your day and to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.
Tanya Petcoff, M.A. is a staff therapist at Child and Family Solutions Center. She works with children, teens and adults. She is conducting teletherapy with her clients and is accepting new referrals. She can be reached at 248-851-5437 and Tanya@childfsc.com